As a new business owner, our reader wants to know how the Workman’s Compensation Fund works.
She employs six staff members and would like to understand the benefits in case one of them is injured on duty.
Our reader also seeks clarity on the length of time for medical costs and salaries to be paid out, and whether she should liaise directly with the fund or make use of a legal firm.
In addition, she asks if labour lawyers handle injury on duty (IOD) cases from inception to closure, or whether they only become involved in labour disputes. She also requests information on how lawyers’ costs are covered.
Lastly, this conscientious employer asks if she can take an injured employee to any provincial hospital or clinic, or if they must be taken directly to the IOD Centre (in Port Elizabeth).
Let’s start at the beginning.
If you employ one or more workers in connection with your business or farming activities, you must register and pay annual assessments to the Compensation Fund. If your company has more than one branch, separate registration is necessary for each, unless an alternative arrangement was made for combined registrations.
How does the process work?
The act provides for payment of compensation to employees sustaining an IOD and protects employers against all civil claims in the event of a work-related accident – even if there is alleged negligence.
An employee injured on duty is entitled to compensation as a result of temporary total disablement, permanent disablement (according to degree of disablement) and death.
Reasonable medical aid expenses arising from an IOD are payable for a period of two years, or longer if further medical treatment will reduce the extent of the disablement.
It’s hard to say how long it will take for Workman’s Compensation to pay out medical costs and salaries, since each case is different. The best route is to contact the Compensation Commissioner’s office for clarity.
For salary payments, the employer would submit certain documents and a resumption report showing how long the employee is expected to be off work. Lodged at the Department of Labour, the processed documents will ensure that an employee will receive 75% of his or her salary.
I believe it is better to retain an attorney should a claim be lodged for an injury. Why do I say this?
Not all employees are IOD-educated and so don’t know the procedures involved. Your lawyer will therefore protect your rights, run the case smoothly and ensure a fair outcome and compensation if there is permanent disability.
A labour lawyer also assists an employee should the matter go to court and can complete and submit all necessary documentation correctly and speedily. If a court case is won, the employee may submit a cost order against the Compensation Commissioner, who may then be liable to pay legal costs on a party and party scale.
The client, however, will still be liable to pay the attorney’s fees.
In terms of where to take an injured employee, bear in mind that not all medical facilities are equipped to handle IOD-related work and so I advise that a worker be taken directly to the IOD Centre.
Send your labour and injury on duty questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Booysen & Rossouw Attorneys in Port Elizabeth specialises in labour related legislation. The firm also covers injury on duty cases as well as all other aspects of the law.
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
Booysen & Rossouw Attorneys